Time is of the essence as officials scour the depths of the North Atlantic in search of the lost civilian submersible that had been on route to the Titanic wreckage. Reported missing on Sunday, the 21-foot vessel is carrying five people, one pilot and four “mission specialists”. The source of the report came from the Canadian research vessel Polar Prince, who was able to alert the US Coast Guard of the blackout in contact.
The area of search around 900 miles east of Cape Cod is massive, and the US and Canadian Coast Guards are putting in their maximum rescue efforts. With assistance from C-130 aircraft, two P-8 planes using sonar to detect underwater causes, and also commercial ships that are carrying out the lookout using dive detection sonar, the swaths of the open ocean are being surveyed both above and below the surface.
Along with searching for the lost submersible, the US Coast Guard has contacted both the US Navy and the Canadian military in order to determine what emergency underwater retrieval equipment and personnel is available; the Seattle based OceanGate organization is also in on the search and has pledged “all options” to be explored in order to safely return the crew.
Within the five passengers on board is the British resident of the UAE, Hamish Harding, as announced through the social media page of Action Aviation, Harding’s company. Chief Mi’sel Joe of Miawpukek First Nation, the joint owner of the Polar Prince, the support vessel of this expedition, revealed that he had received a call on Sunday with the concerning news. As of Monday night the US Coast Guard tweeted that the C-130 planes had returned to North Carolina from their search and that the P-8 planes would continue looking for the sub through the morning.
The Titanic, the iconic figure in maritime history, sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in April 1912 with greater than 1500 peoples’ lives lost. At the depth of 13,000 feet, the wreckage, located southeast of Newfoundland, was discovered in 1985. OceanGate Expeditions, based in St. John’s Newfoundland, offers an 8-day program beginning with the 400 mile journey to the debris field. Up to five people, one pilot and four paying customers, can board the submarine named the “Titan” in order to make the two-hour dive to get an up close visualization of the preserved Titanic.
With the lost submersible four days away from running out of reserves, the search and rescue efforts remain critical. US and Canadian Coast guards continue reconnaissance of the ocean with the help of C-130 aircraft, two P-8 planes and commercial ships, while the US Coast Guard keeps contact with US Navy and Canadian military services in order to establish any possible underwater rescue capacities. Assistance is also coming from OceanGate’s organization, stating that they are “exploring and mobilizing all options to bring the crew back safely”. The Polar Prince and the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing are also actively searching on the water’s surface and the US Coast Guard has announced their C-130 aircraft will return to North Carolina in the morning with the P-8’s planned to pursue their searches.
The search of the lost submersible and five passengers has filled the air of the North Atlantic with urgency. Despite the infamous history of the wreck the Titanic the five passengers are hoping to explore, the search and rescue efforts stand little room for error.
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